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Friday, April 29, 2011

Guest Amanda Grange: The Importance of Birth in Regency England

Linda Banche here. Today I welcome Amanda Grange and her Pride and Prejudice prequel, Wickham's Diary. Why did Wickham turn out so bad? The answer lies in the importance of birth in Jane Austen's world. As a bonus, Ms. Grange tells us about her favorite Jane Austen man.

Leave a comment with your email address for a chance to win the copy of Wickham's Diary which Sourcebooks has generously provided. Amanda will select the winner. Check the comments to see who won, and how to contact me to claim your book. If I cannot contact the winner within a week of the selection, I will award the book to an alternate. Note, Sourcebooks can mail to USA and Canada addresses only.

And the winner Amanda selected is Karla Vollkopf. Congratulations, Karla!

Welcome, Amanda!

My favourite Jane Austen man tends to fluctuate. Sometimes I’m drawn to Wentworth’s confidence and deep-rooted feelings; sometimes I’m more in the mood for Henry Tilney’s liveliness. But I am always in the mood for Darcy’s arrogance, so I think I have to say Mr Darcy.

In the late eighteenth century and early nineteenth century when Jane Austen was alive, birth had a huge impact on people’s lives. If a man was born to a wealthy family then he would have a lot of responsibilities as a landlord, a master, a patron and the head of the family. But he would also have a lot of advantages. He wouldn’t have to work for a living and he would spend much of his time on leisure pursuits, travelling from a large country estate to a town house in London, where he would attend balls and a variety of entertainments.

If he was born to a moderately wealthy family then he would have a choice of careers open to him and he would probably go into the church or one of the professions. He would have to work, but he would have a good standard of living.

If he was born to a poor family then he would have to work from an early age. If his family had useful connections he might find himself in the army or the navy from the age of twelve or so, with a chance to rise through his own efforts. But if his family was very poor with no connections, then he would probably find himself working down a coal pit or in a factory from perhaps five years old, with no chance of bettering himself or escaping his lot.

Mr Darcy is born into a wealthy family and wants for nothing. His future is mapped out for him and he will never suffer from want. Wickham, on the other hand, is the son of a steward and he will have to work for a living when he’s older. He will never be able to afford an estate and will always be considered beneath Darcy. This leads to a lot of problems in Wickham’s Diary as Wickham doesn’t accept the realities of his time. Instead, he tries to improve his lot by running after wealthy heiresses. If he succeeds, he will be lifted into another sphere and the money will buy him an entrance to a world he can’t enter as a steward’s son. But if he fails, then he will have to find a way of earning a living – or, being Wickham, he will have to pay his way by gambling and absconding without settling his bills!

About the Author--Amanda Grange
Amanda Grange is a bestselling author of Jane Austen fiction (over 200,000 copies sold) and a popular author of historical fiction in the U.K. She specializes in creative interpretations of classic novels and historic events, including Jane Austen's novels and the Titanic shipwreck. Her novels include Mr. Darcy, Vampyre, Mr. Darcy's Diary, and Titanic Affair. She lives in England. Visit her at

Wickham's Diary by Amanda Grange
This prequel to Pride and Prejudice begins with George Wickham at age 12, handsome and charming but also acutely aware that his friend, Fitzwilliam Darcy, is rich, whilst he is poor. His mother encourages him to exercise his charm on the young Georgiana Darcy and Anne de Bourgh in the hopes of establishing a stable of wealthy social connections.

At university, Darcy and Wickham grow apart. Wickham is always drinking and wenching, whilst Darcy, who apparently has everything, is looking for something he cannot find. Wickham runs through the money Darcy gives him and then takes up with the scandalous Belle, a woman after Wickham’s own greedy, black heart.

Praise for Mr. Darcy’s Diary:

“Grange hits the Regency language and tone on the head.”
—Library Journal


Carol L. said...

Hi Linda,
I enjoyed reading about the birth order in Regency era. Amazing how young children were when forced to work due to their birth order and family income. I'd love reading Wickham's Diary.Thanks for the opportunity to win.
Carol L

Karla Vollkopf said...

That sounds very interesting, I love historicals! *_*

kah_cherub at hotmail dot com

Anonymous said...

Hi Linda,
Poor Wickham, he is so misunderstood. Amanda's novel sounds like a great read. Thank you for a chance to win Wickham's Diary.

catslady said...

Oh birth order is a fascinating subject, even today but without such extremes I would think. Logically I can understand the reason for the eldest having such responsiblities/priviliges but in my heart it all seems so unfair. But it makes for very interesting reading. I've recently discovered that there was such a thing as P&P variations and I'm just enjoying them so much. Your book sounds very intriguing!

coviellorbfl said...

What an intriguing story. Sounds marvelous. Certainly a terrific read!

Sue Palmer Fineman said...

Interesting blog. There have always been class differences, but none quite so obvious as in Regency England. I'm thankful that my kids, the great-grandchildren of a share-cropper, have solid educations and promising careers.

Sharon Sullivan-Craver said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sharon Sullivan-Craver said...

I loved this blog and the piece about the births. thank you for sharing.I kinda read somewhere

Oregon Kimm said...

I've read where as patron or head of the family, the first born was responsible to some degree for the welfare (financial, etc.) of his "clan" - to include extended family.

Was this a commonly practice and to what extent I wonder? Perhaps it depended on their income level?